Friday, December 31, 2010

On Being An Architect: Floorplans

Well, I thought I should finally bite the bullet and finish mapping out Rosentia Island. I have the basic overview done. I know the climate. I know what the name of the two big piers are (Shipperman's and Fisherman's Pier - inventive, I know). I know where the manor house sits. Now it's just a point of actually sitting down and sorting out the manor plan and BOY is it enough to do my head in.

It's surprisingly painstaking to set up a proper map. This manor has about 80 rooms in it. The above stairs sections was fairly easy after checking out a number of Victorian floorplans for Great Houses but the below-stairs section is ... well, there's a lot of rooms and a lot of needs and everytime I think I've got it down I've got to re-draw it.

I've also found photo-representatives of each of the rooms (which took me some time) and a brief description / name so that I can keep my facts straight later on. And all of this for something that only takes place in the first half of the novel (though if it turns into a series, there'll be at least one whole novel based on this and I can re-use the basic designs if not the room descriptions).

It's turned into about 10 pages and counting and I'm already tired of it. On the plus side, the floorplan and some of the stranger rooms have really pointed out plot possibilities so it's not all hard work and no play.

So, how far have you gone to set things out for your novel? And have any of you built 3D models (by the way, Sims 2 is really good for laying out normal houses or regular mansions)?


  1. Well, I love maps and floor plans. That is play to me, as well as being an essential part of my writing process. I posted about this earlier this year here.

    But I certainly don't go to the extent of trying to describe everything. I only go as far as I need to. I might have a small scale map of a country, showing broad brush features, then larger scale detail maps of a few areas of interest.

    For something like the manor you describe here, I would probably have a floor plan laying out the arrangement of rooms, but I think I'd only go as far as describing the ones where key action takes place. I'd do that as I go, and note down things that are important to the story so I can be consistent later. But the coverage will vary hugely in depth of detail, as needs dictate. I certainly don't make it into a chore.

  2. Oh no, I don't do an in-depth description of the rooms. Normally 2-3 lines. I wouldn't bother with a picture if I had to do a few paragraphs for each. I include a bit of history about the room (murders), details of a few of the technological gadgets (usually just nouns that I can always look up later like wrangler for the washing room), strange books, and stuff like that. Basically to give me a guide so I can always look over it and go 'oh yeah, that room's haunted' or what-not.

    I won't be doing that with any of the other mansions or manors, though. I think writing up one has forced me to do the research enough to understand what I might find in, say, a sitting room as opposed to a morning room.

  3. Pictures...what a great idea! I used to just take notes of places I see. I keep a notebook in my purse, but I should whip out my phone and take a few snaps of interesting spots. Nice post.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  4. Google Images is a lifesaver for it as well.

  5. I do not world-build. But I have thought out rooms of houses and picked people for my people and it's led to good lot lines more often than not.